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Stop Repeating the Same Career Mistake

Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

A woman looking up, cringing.

Groundhog Day is here and in honor of our favorite fictional weatherman, Phil Connors, we asked you to share stories of career mistakes that feel as though they’re happening on a loop, as well as your sage advice on how to avoid common and not-so-common professional pitfalls.

Here are some first-hand-accounts and tips from anonymous members of the Idealist Careers community on how to avoid letting your career fall into a Punxatawneyan cycle of cold showers, pot holes, and Needlenose Ned Ryerson.

Career Mistake #1: I forget that my employer isn't doing me a favor

I get so excited and starry eyed when I get a job, thinking, "They picked me?!" I'm always so thrilled to get the job that I forget that I'm an asset to my future employer and not the other way around.

"I forget that I'm an asset to my future employer, and not the other way around."

The Fix:

For me, it's about reminding myself—especially after I get an offer—that nobody is doing me a favor. I was offered this job for a reason. Sure, I want to show my employer that they made the right choice, but I don't want to give them the impression that I'm not confident or capable.

Career Mistake #2: I never negotiate

I never negotiate and I feel like working in the nonprofit sector compounds the issue. I’ve managed to convince myself that in the cash-strapped sector, negotiating will always be a fruitless endeavor.

The Fix:

I now realize that it’s rare for an employer to like you enough to extend an offer, and then recoil at the first sign of attempted negotiation. That alone should embolden us all!

I have also made it a habit to visit Guidestar and check out a nonprofit’s Form 990 before I apply for a job. A Form 990 includes salaries for the highest-paid employees as well as other budget information for any licensed 501(c)3. This info may shed some light on how flexible an organization can afford to be if you choose to negotiate your salary. If it seems that the salary is more or less written in stone, consider what else you may be able to negotiate.

Career Mistake #3: I don't give myself a break

I keep making the mistake of not taking the time that I feel I need and deserve between jobs.

The Fix:

Sure, you can make a strong case for your ideal start date with the new employer—which I definitely encourage—but there are important steps that I try to remind myself to take with my soon-to-be former employer, too."I leave behind as little unfinished business as possible without offering an unnecessarily long transition period." As I’m preparing to accept an offer, I’ll start getting everything in order at the current job even before submitting my resignation letter. This gives me a head start on ensuring that I leave behind as little unfinished business as possible without feeling inclined to give my current employer an unnecessarily long transition period. In the end, this translates to more time to recharge between jobs!

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Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

As the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.

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